The Iraqi Special Forces, backed by artillery and coalition air strikes, launched a major offensive from Bartella and two other fronts last week.
Some officers said privately that the Iraqi troops had fought just inside the city limits.
The guns fell silent towards evening across what now looks like a ghost town.
Most people suffered under ISIS (Daesh / ISIL), particularly minorities like Yazidis, Shiite Muslims and Christians, as testified to by the destruction of a church.
The graves outside have all been desecrated, including that of a priest whose body lies in the open just around the corner.
The church cross was torn down by ISIS and replaced by a wooden crucifix.
A Muslim colonel said that if ISIS did any good it was to make Iraqi’s more unified.
“They kill people of every religion, not just one particular one. ISIS are normally Sunnis, but they didn’t just kill the Shiah and Christians, they killed the Sunnis as well,” said Colonel Atheer Jasim, Iraqi Special Operations Force.
Colonel Jasim showed a room where ISIS taught children.
The white board sets out the timetable for lessons ranging from moral guidance to gun care, Kung Fu, learning how to go without food and water and learning more about people from different countries to know how best to kill them.
The small board is perhaps the most chilling: instructions on how to target the most vulnerable areas of the body.
The battle for Mosul itself is now truly underway, but even soldiers like Colonel Jasim acknowledge that recapturing the city doesn’t mean Iraq will be free of terrorism committed by IS or by other groups with similar aims and with different names.